You may have heard someone say that artists are born and not made that unless you were born with an artistic skill there is no way that you can acquire it. Although this statement may hold some truth, that some people have an innate artistic ability, art can be acquired and developed. The question then is how can we go about acquiring a skill we were not born with? This week we will look at five ways we can use to develop and improve a skill.
1- Unblock the blocks/Overcome your fear
The first thing is to get up and do it. We all have so many ideas and concepts that are just sitting gathering dust in our heads. There is a saying that words without action are nothing. The same holds true of ideas that are not acted upon. Photography is the same in that so many people want to be photographers, but they don’t take the time to put their desire into action. There are so many reasons that can and will stop us from doing what we desire the biggest of which is fear of failure. What we must remember is that we have to start from somewhere usually from a not some good place.
But once we take that initial step half the battle is won. One thing that you can do as far as photography is concerned is to force yourself to take at least a picture a day. It does not matter what kind of picture you take or what kind of criticism you get just keep taking pictures day by day. What this will do is develop a habit in you and help you to overcome your fear of failure.
2- Master the basics
Every endeavour in life has basic standards that set that field apart. These standards are based on the basic rules and principals that guide that discipline. It is imperative to master these basic rules if you are to excel in that field as well as to understand and grasp the more advanced concepts of that field. Take for example mathematics. Mathematicians need to first understand the simple rules or adding, subtracting and dividing before they can grasp deeper complex mathematical principles. We have all gone through the ABC song before we could read and write complex words and sentence. Without a deep understanding of the basic rules, it is virtually impossible, as in our example above, for a mathematician to understand complex equations. Innovators in any field are masters of basic rules of that field. Because of their deep understanding of the basics, they can manipulate and yes indeed break the rules to come up with new and exciting ideas.
The same applies to photography. You need to understand the basic rules of exposure and composition to understand and master the more complex rules and concepts of photography. Master the rule of thirds for instance before you tackle the golden triangle rule. With this approach learning photography will not only become easier but you will also be able to understand the more complex rules a little easier. The idea here is to build your knowledge from a solid foundation.
3-Use what you have.
You may have heard this expression albeit in a different context: cameras don't take pictures people do. One of the biggest misconception in photography is that an expensive camera will make one a better photographer. This is as far from the truth as the stars are from earth. Yes, a more expensive camera will take better-quality pictures but if the image is poorly composed or exposed the difference between a $10,000 camera and a $500-dollar camera is erased. Equipment has never magically turned a mediocre photographer into a good one. It has nevertheless actually made photography more expensive, complex and difficult. The more equipment you get the more you will spend your time fumbling and understanding different pieces of equipment instead of taking pictures and hence developing your skills. If you only have a camera phone or a simple point and shot camera fret not: use it, understand it and its limitations. Your focus should be on the act of taking pictures instead on what brand or make of camera you are using.
It is sad to see beginners jump into buying expensive DSLR's and all sorts of zoom lens when the simple point and shoot camera that they have is ideal to develop their composition skill. Buy equipment only when you have outgrown the equipment that you have and most importantly when you can afford it.
4-Learn from pros
In every field, there are people that have been in that field longer than you have. It is important to tap into this wealth of information to learn not only how they made it but also the tricks that they use to come up with stunning pictures that they do. The internet has opened access to so many famous photographers and of course, so many of them offer free advice tips and tricks. One such resource is YouTube which has the bonus advantage of being visual.
It is important though to be cautious with the information you are getting from the internet. There are so many bogus photographers who can easily lead you down a path of deception and misinformation. Only follow those whose work you admire or are highly recommended by industry leaders.
5-Practice, practice, practice
A famous real estate mantra is location, location, location. In photography, the mantra should be practice, practice, practice. There is no other way of improving your photography than practice.
Practice is the key to not only horn in your skills but also to refresh and polish the skill that you already have. If you have learned something new practice it, if you are struggling with a technique practice it; just practice, practice and practice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes embrace them because it is out of our mistakes that we learn and grow. The more you practice the better your photography will become.